THIS silly bug is causing havoc amongst our snooker fraternity. But all is not lost. You just have to be creative. Below are ten ways to turn this enforced holiday to your advantage.
1. THE BIG FAT SNOOKER QUIZ
Cuestars supremo John Hunter has vowed to upload ten questions covering a specific snooker-related topic every morning during the lockdown. More than 150 people have already taken part in The Big Fat Snooker Quiz.
Previous topics, future topics (for people wanting to swot up) and leaderboards can be found at The Big Fat Snooker Quiz.
2. SNOOKER VIDEOS
YouTube is a godsend at times like this. I highly recommend Nic Barrow and Barry Stark’s extensive set of coaching videos. For something a bit different, have a look at Break from life.
Search for Nic Barrow or Barry Stark or Break from life at YouTube.
3. VIDEO COACHING
Video coaching has been around for a while, especially for players and coaches separated by more than a short stretch of the M27. It’s not ideal but it can be done. I conducted a session via Skype in the first week of the lockdown. Other video calling methods are available.
4. FACEBOOK LISTS
A great one doing the rounds amongst the boys is a list of questions like: luckiest player, weirdest cue action, etc. A vast majority voted Jamie Wilson as the quickest player they have competed against. Ah… the wisdom of crowds.
5. PRACTISING AT HOME
For those without a full-sized table, there is still no excuse to leave your cue gathering dust under the stairs.
See Nic Barrow’s video: How to Practice at Home
Many of you are lucky enough to have small tables at home. But just a flat surface, like an ironing board, is good enough for some things. This is a great opportunity to sort things like finding the centre of the cue-ball, straight cueing and shoulder or elbow movement.
6. LEARN A NEW CUE SPORT
Three-cushion carom. This is quite remarkable. There are three balls and no pockets. A point is scored for a cannon but your cue-ball has to have hit three cushions before striking the second ball. Search for Carom in YouTube and then pick videos with ‘3-cushion’ in the title. The skill level is phenomenal.
English billiards: Loads of videos on YouTube but just look at the cue-ball control when they get stuck into top-of-the-table play. One example is Danik Lucas 355 break billiards. It’s beautiful to watch.
Russian billiards: Again thanks to YouTube, for all those of you who want tighter pockets!
7. START A SNOOKER DIARY
A diary is a great way of monitoring your progress. Sometimes our perception of our progress is far removed from the reality. We tend to only remember our last game rather than seeing the big picture.
Record scores for practice routines. List your significant breaks. Cuestars has a record of those made in our events. See Cuestars High Breaks.
Prepare a CV for a potential sponsor. List all of your achievements. You may be surprised at how many there are. Select suitable newspaper cuttings and links to internet articles. Search for your name in Google. Again, you may be surprised at the results.
Compile a list of small local businesses. But it’s probably best not to approach them until we are back to normal.
Research the game. How did snooker start? What did billiards cues look like centuries ago? Who is this Alex Higgins character that the old-timers keep raving about?
It’s a staggering fact that not many good players have actually read the rules, which were updated last year.
I guarantee you will learn something new (I did this week). Some parts may confuse you. Luckily, we have two official referees – Steven Hughes and Chris Wyatt – among our merry throng. Both, I’m sure, would be happy to answer questions via Facebook.
A great source of rules explanations is a Facebook page created by Clive Brown. Go to www.facebook.com/groups/snooker.referees. Some of the replies are, shall we say, interesting but you learn who to ignore and who to trust.
So which topic does the picture refer to? Actually, none of them. It just happens to be one of my favourite pictures. It was taken by Kevin Legg at the ‘Auld Enemy’ clash between the England and Scottish under-14 teams at the Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds, in August, 2008. Pictured is a resigned-looking Anthony Nardone as ten-year-old debutant Shane Castle wrapped up a 3-0 victory with an 83 clearance.
Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)